July 6, 2005

Stars stage last Live 8 gig to pressure G8 leaders

By Michael Holden

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Rock stars staged a final "Live 8"
concert in Edinburgh on Wednesday in a last-minute bid to press
world leaders gathering in nearby Gleneagles to do more to
alleviate poverty.

The free gig featured artists including James Brown and
Annie Lennox. Ten other "Live 8" concerts on Saturday across
four continents featured what was billed as the greatest ever
line-up of rock and pop talent.

About 50,000 people crowded into the Murrayfield sports
stadium in Edinburgh, 65 km (40 miles) from where leaders of
the Group of Eight industrialized nations began their summit.

"The (British) prime minister goes into this negotiation
with the biggest democratic mandate ever assembled on one
single issue in history," organizer Bob Geldof said in

"If they (the leaders) don't care, they're going to have to
do it publicly," said the American actress Susan Sarandon, in
Edinburgh to support the concert.

Geldof also orchestrated the Live Aid event 20 years ago --
which was watched by 1.5 billion people and raised $100 million
for African famine victims.

The Irish rocker now hopes Live 8 will force leaders to act
on poverty, and is demanding debt relief for poor countries, a
doubling of aid and fairer trade conditions.

Geldof and U2 front man Bono, another celebrity campaigner,
met some G8 leaders face-to-face to get their message across.

Bono called Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin "difficult"
and "annoying" after Martin said it would take time for his
country to meet demands to boost overseas assistance to 0.7
percent of Gross Domestic Product from 0.26 percent now.

The two stars have lavished praise on British Prime
Minister Tony Blair for making Africa and poverty priorities at
the G8 summit, although it is far from clear whether they will
get what they want from the gathering of the world's most
powerful men.

They have pointed to recent debt concessions by rich
countries and Washington's agreement to double aid to Africa as
examples of how nations are responding to calls to do more.

In addition to the Live 8 concerts, Geldof urged up to a
million people to march on Edinburgh and join the Make Poverty
History campaign. Only a few hundred protesters were visible in
Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon, although some 200,000
attended an anti-poverty march there at the weekend.

Another celebrity initiative fell flat when Hollywood actor
George Clooney failed to turn up to a Save the Children press
conference in Edinburgh for security reasons, the charity said.